The Rise and Fall of Edgar
By George Liambai Liambai
Edgar Lungu emerged into the limelight following the death of Zambia’s 5th Republican President Michael Chilufya Sata. His ascendancy to power, which eclipsed other longstanding contenders to the highest office, was the creation of diverse groups of people, mostly those edited out of senior government positions by Sata. The creation of Lungu started long before Sata died but was strategically done; allowing obvious contenders to fight it out while he played a low profile.
He won the first election, edging out Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development, by just about 3,000 votes. In the scheduled general elections in 2016, Lungu gained many more supporters. These came from different categories of people: the evangelical grouping with its ‘Christians for Lungu’ platform; businesspeople with unique interests (as they eventually captured him); remnants of the collapsing mining industry (these migrated to Lusaka from the Copperbelt in search of opportunities and they ended up in cabinet); and ethically driven political pundits who just did not want a Tonga to rise to the throne. Social media, political rallies and every other event was dominated by pro-Lungu messages, with the Dununa Reverse song played loudly from every corner of the country. People danced towards anticipated victory.
The experience has drastically changed as we head towards the 2021 August elections: muted PF voices on social media, declining attendance to PF rallies, subdued PF voices on every other available platform and an unprecedented rise in the number of youths who want change.
The PF Media Team has resorted to fake messages to mute the opposition messages, mainly for the most prominent opposition leader: Hakainde Hichilema. Only one in ten people you talk to on the street wants PF back into power. This assessment is in itself very generous in favour of the PF (and looks like they know the fact hence the increasing levels of violence and banning of rallies).
The message about infrastructural investment has seriously boomeranged and the party does not know what has hit it. City streets have been littered with large billboards for Edgar Lungu, programming in most radio stations always interrupted by PF campaign messages. The money spent on the PF campaigns is estimated at US$300 million (K7 billion). This is 600 percent more than what was allocated towards Drugs and Medical Supplies in the 2021 budget. Unfortunately for PF, nothing appears to resonate with voter expectations much the same way the powerful UNIP campaign songs in 1991 failed to change anything.
It is clear the voters have made up their mind to remove Edgar Lungu and his PF and seek for a government that will mitigate the rising cost of living, arrest corruption and bring about national unity. The ‘Christians for Lungu’ have disappeared; the State capturers are in panic of possible change of government and what lies in wait; top civil servants are trying hard to play politics to salvage the situation. The Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Bright Nundwe could not distinguish between Office of the President and that of the PF Provincial Chairman.
The police is also coming out heavy handedly to intimidate political opponents who do not need much to campaign as the electorate is eager to insert the votes. The pro-PF musicians is being harangued on social media (for every supporting voice for PF official song on YouTube, there are 20 opposing it, a complete reversal of what transpired five years earlier).
The anti-Tonga messages that characterized the 2016 elections are not fashionable anymore and the PF campaign team cannot believe how this easy-to-sell message no longer has an iota of traction. Zambians appear to agree they were duped by a clique of selfish and greedy individuals. They now know the real enemy against progress: it is none other than the PF and its leader Edgar Lungu. How fortunes have disappeared this quickly!